Monday 19 February 2018

Digital Hub offers former Manor Park site

The Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) has reclaimed 3.3acres of development sites in the Liberties area of Dublin 8 from developer Manor Park Homes (MPH).

The move came after MPH failed to develop the sites by the end of last year and DHDA has also retained MPH's non-refundable deposit of €2.5m.

As a result DHDA, in conjunction with Dublin City Council, has put one of the sites, a 1.05 acre property with frontage onto Thomas Street and Rainsford St, up for sale.

DHDA is reviewing its options on the other 2.25 acre site containing a listed building, known as VAT 7, which it is believed might appeal to a prestigious anchor tenant.

A spokesman for DHDA said the state agency is pleased that MPH had achieved planning permission for the VAT 7 site on Crane St, as this increases its value.

"It remains open to DHDA to apply for a change of use if this suits the overall development of the Digital Hub in the future," he added.

The agency has not disclosed its price target for the Rainsford St site but says it would suit a commercial mixed development which would accommodate media and IT companies seeking access to high-capacity fibre-optic cabling.

Headed by entrepreneur Joe Moran, MPH twice over the years won tender competitions to acquire Digital Hub sites and twice it forfeited sites when it failed to develop them within the allotted time scale. One of its planning applications included proposals for a 50- storey hotel and apartment building.

In 2008, another developer, P. Elliot & Co, took over some of the DH land previously surrendered by MPH. Elliot subsequently developed the 20,205sq ft Digital Court building where nine DH companies occupy 93pc of the space. Only one unit remains in this building.

As many as 90 businesses are currently operating in DH and occupy about 158,000sq ft of office space between them in nine buildings.

Rents range from €18-€24 per sq ft for commercial office space depending on the building.

DHDA provides these businesses with advice on accessing financial and other supports from other Government agencies such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the local enterprise board.

Nicknamed Ireland's Silicon Alley, the hub was conceived to encourage networking of like-minded people in digital media companies who work in a cluster environment and thus generate opportunities for collaboration and business partnerships.

However, a question mark overhangs the future of DHDA as an Bord Snip pointed out that the Government could save €1.8m a year by merging it with Enterprise Ireland/IDA.

Irish Independent

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